Road Test: 2017 Mazda6 Grand Touring

The 2017 Mazda6 has evolved quite a bit over the years. Today, it’s just as spacious and feature-laden as the competition, and in many ways better because of the athletic and fuel efficient purpose that Mazda is targeting with their vehicles.

Offered in three variations, Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, the Mazda6 has so much going for it in the competitive midsize segment.

Ride and Handling

It’s a Mazda, so we know before we even get behind the wheel that it’ll be engaging. On back roads, the Mazda6 feels light and tossable. Steering weight feels balanced and we liked the amount of road feedback through the wheel.

G-Vectoring Control is new for 2017 and uses sensor inputs and engine management to allow for better handling.

19″ wheels and tires are standard and do a good job of absorbing harsh roads, but definitely ask to be pushed around in spirited driving.

Braking

Braking performance is excellent, with a solid feeling pedal that provides good feedback.

Powertrain and Fuel Economy

Mazda’s 2.5L SKYACTIV engine produces 184 HP and 185 lb-ft of torque provides plenty of pep to move the Mazda6. The 6-speed automatic is smooth and manual mode works well.

Fuel economy after a week of local and highway driving (30/70) averages in at 32.1 mpg. The EPA rates the Mazda6 with i-ELOOP (regenerative engine braking) at 27/35/30 (city/highway/combined). Very impressive for a midsize sedan.

Noise

The cabin is quieter than previous Mazda6 sedans we’ve driven, but road noise is still prevalent. The engine sounds slightly strained under acceleration, but quiets out once up to speed. Wind noise is at a minimum on the highway.

Headlights

LED headlights provided an impressive amount of illumination down the road. We rate these headlights at the top and they’re beautiful to look at from the outside too. The high-beams project far and wide, and we appreciate Mazda including High Beam Control on all Grand Touring models to automatically switch between low and high beams. The Mazda6 LED headlights also swivel based on steering wheel angle.

We really like the look of the light pipe that travels around the lower part of the Mazda6 grille, visually “connecting” both headlights.

Interior Fit and Finish

The cabin is finished in a sporty manner. It feels upscale and of quality, but the black-on-black can feel a bit to dark. Stitching on the dash, contrast piping on the seats and metal trim add a lot of style. All the touch-points are well padded, but the door armrests could be a bit larger.

Everything feels well-constructed and the craftsmanship is high.

Seating

The driver’s seat features 8-way power adjustment with power lumbar and 6-way power passenger seat. The seats are on the narrow end of the spectrum, but are very supportive and comfortable. Rear seat comfort is excellent, with good room all around and plenty of leg room for a 6-foot passenger behind a 6-foot driver.

Front seat heaters offer 3 levels of heat, and new for 2017, the steering wheel is heated too.

Visibility

Visibility is good, with the A-pillars being a relatively small. The large rear window and side door glass area helps see around the car. A backup camera is standard and projects to the 7″ screen sitting atop the dash.

The rearview mirror and driver’s-side mirror auto dim, contributing to better visibility at night because of reduced glare from other vehicles.

Gauges and Controls

The gauges are divided into three bins: analog engine RPM, analog speedometer, and LCD engine temperature, trip info and fuel gauge. They’re all easy to read and crisp.

Climate control buttons and knobs span the dash, with the Mazda Connect display perched above. We’d like to see larger pictograms and fonts used on the buttons.

Mazda’s cheaper alternative to Head-Up Display (HUD) is their Active Driving Display (ADD) system. A small projector and screen system are built into the dash and fold up and down when the vehicle is powered on or off. It works quite well, displaying a variety of key info including recognizing traffic signs on the road and displaying the speed limit beside the current vehicle speed. We’d like to see this standard on every vehicle as an accident prevention tool.

The savings are passed onto the customer, with no special-coated windshield needed or advanced projection devices.The cost of a special windshield  on our tester is easy to read and adjustable in content as well as position on the windshield.

We’d like to see a tuning knob brought back to the Mazda Connect system.

Infotainment

The 7″ Mazda Connect display can be controlled by touch when the Mazda6 is parked, or via the knobs and buttons on the center console anytime. The contrasting colors and fonts, along with the quality display, contribute to good legibility.

Mazda Connect is relatively intuitive, with a large knob that rotates and tilts from side to side to glide through menus, stations and options. We hope Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are offered soon.

The Bose 11-speaker sound system offers lots of bass. The inputs include AM, FM, XM, CD, HD radio, USB, 3.5mm and Bluetooth.

Crash-Avoidance

Blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and smart city brake support are standard on Touring trims. Lane keep assist, radar cruise control and smart brake support system are standard on Grand Touring. We’d like to see all of these safety systems standard on all trim levels.

Crash Test Results

The 2017 Mazda6 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ and NHTSA overall 5-star crash tested vehicle. This is one of the safest vehicles available today.

Sumary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 9
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 9
Noise 8
Headlights 9
Interior Fit and Finish 8
Seating 8
Visibility 10
Gauges and Controls 9
Infotainment 6
Crash-Avoidance 10
Total Score 87%
Facts
Make: Mazda
Model: 6
Trim Level: Grand Touring
Engine: 2.5L 4-Cylinder
Transmission: 6-Speed Auto
Options: GT Premium Package
Base Price: $30,695
As-Tested Price: $34,230

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